A map with some of our photos and links to the hotels and bed and breakfast places where we stayed.
As I mentioned before, kindness and consideration, no matter how small the gesture, mean so much on the Camino.
Here are a few more examples of angels in our midst:
The woman in a car who motioned to us to keep going on the street we were on when we found ourselves lost in the middle of Santiago.
My dad and Cathy, who gave us copies of Joyce Krupp’s “Walk in a Relaxed Manner,” a wonderful book about the Camino. I read it on the plane ride to Spain and its beautiful philosophy and message helped me to truly get the most out of my journey.
All the friends and family who sent prayers our way. We thank you for being part of our journey.
One of the things that makes the Camino so interesting and awe-inspiring is the diversity of the people and their sheer numbers.
Those on the trail develop a certain comradeship. Despite the difficulty of the challenging walk, everyone is so friendly and upbeat. There’s a sense that we’re all in this together.
The standard greeting on the trail is “Buen Camino” (good Camino). And you soon discover that everyone greets one another.
We realized this most on the last day. Once we reached the city, we no longer heard the greeting because those we passed by weren’t pilgrims.
That was one of the reasons the last day was so arduous and unpleasant. The other was the length of the path in the city. We wrongly assumed we’d soon find ourselves at the church doors once we reached the city. But the trip through the city seemed to go on for miles and we had a hard time even finding the cathedral.
Every day the trail was filled with people; sometimes it was downright crowded. We were rarely alone on the path.
Some traveled in groups; others in pairs. There were families, solitary pilgrims and gaggles of noisy teenagers.
On the first day, we met a friendly group from Alacante that included three generations: a college-age son, his father and a rambunctious grandmother who walked faster than all of them. We met up with the group later in the day in the outdoor bar, where grandma was hoisting several beers!
There were several children, one as young as five. And there were plenty of elderly folk, some who moved very, very slowly and some who lapped us. There were overweight walkers and fit and trim bicyclists.
It was a fascinating mix of humanity!
There is so much to reflect upon now that we have completed this amazing journey. I think it may be weeks, months, even years before the full lessons of the Camino are apparent to us.
As those lessons occur to me, I will share them here.
The experience of walking the Camino was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in my lifetime: thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, traveling by foot, bike or horse anywhere between 100 and 400 miles on an ancient path that ends with a majestic cathedral, where they glorify God. Truly inspiring.
The aspect I was most looking forward to on the Camino was solitude — not necessarily silence — but a time when I could unplug from my hectic life and experience some sort of introspection.
I was equally excited for Caitlin and her friend to experience some quiet thinking time. Their generation grew up with so many distractions. I wanted to have them to understand what it’s like to devote time to thinking.
The Camino affords you not only time and relative quiet, but its natural beauty serves as inspiration to think deeply and reflect.
What a luxury to have six days of solitude. Of course, it was painful and hard. Each hill seemed like a mountain.
But looking back now, already those bad memories are fading, and the peace and exhilaration I experienced remains at the forefront.
We’re on the train from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid.
It’s interesting to see the big-picture view of Galacia after seeing it from such close detail while walking. The rolling hills are covered with lush forests, dotted here and there with the red roofs and stone walls of farm houses and small villages. In the background stand the bluish outlines of the Ancares Mountains.
It is so vast and it is so hilly! No wonder my feet are sore with blisters.
As we zoom along, I yearn to see a glimpse of the Camino. I don’t want to let it out of my sight. It’s a sentimental feeling, much like I would experience when, as a kid, our family would leave my grandparents home in Colorado, and I’d watch sadly as the Rockies would slowly disappear.
I want to keep close all of the sights, sounds and smells if the Camino in my thoughts. Here are some of those Camino moments I want to treasure:
The dappled late morning paths when the sun would shine through the thick forest.
The wildflowers that brightened the trail: fuchsia delphiniums, violet lupines and wild daisies.
The moss-covered stone fences that seemed to have been standing for centuries.
The vistas at the top of a hill. In the early morning, the fog would hug the valley and the blues and greens would run together like a watercolor painting.
The stars sparkling brightly in the dark dawn sky.
A dirt path made soft by fragrant pine needles.
A gentle thunderstorm that lulled us to sleep in Lestedo.
The tops of the fir trees swaying in the wind.
The dark and damp forests where bright green ferns covered the floor.
The colorful gardens in the homes on the path that seemed to have been planted for our benefit. Hydrangeas bushes erupting with blooms of white, blue and purple. Large yellow and pink dahlias. Pots of bright red geraniums.
The smells of the Camino ranged from overpowering to delightfully fragrant.
The most pervasive smell was manure. We passed countless dairies and farms and had to watch our step to avoid many a cow pie. Unfortunately, we also followed a group of four pilgrims on horseback.
So we’d be relieved when we’d get a whiff of freshly mowed hay or rosemary or sage or pine.
The sounds were equally varied. The birds serenaded us every morning. Owls — or something that sounded like them — often hooted from nearby bushes.
We heard cow bells, church bells, babbling brooks, baaing sheep and mooing cows. One afternoon I felt the ground tremble and looked over to see a horse galloping in a pasture.